Gulf Coast Cooking

Tips for creating the perfect omelet

So many good things to be done with fresh eggs -- turning them into an omelet is one of my favorites.

A perfectly made omelet is good enough to stand on its own, serve it with buttered toast, a glass of juice and coffee and you're off to a great beginning for the day. Fill it with cheese, ham, sautéed vegetables or leftovers and it will make a great lunch or supper as well.

An omelet will also take on almost any theme you want to task it with. An Italian omelet can be filled with any good Italian cheese, prosciutto di Parma or sopressata or a flavorful mixture of tomatoes, garlic and Italian sausage.

Give it a French flair with mushrooms and a cream sauce or make your omelet Coastal by filling it with crab meat or shrimp and a few sautéed vegetables.

No matter the style of omelet you decide to serve a few tips can be helpful: a good non-stick pan is a great idea, a pan that is wiped clean with a cloth and never scrubbed. The quality of ingredients is very important; go to the farmers market and buy fresh, local eggs and buy the best quality butter than you can. As with any delicate food do not overcook your omelet, to do so changes the texture and degrades the flavor.

An omelet can be served flat or folded, if you are going to stuff it, folding is the most common technique, although it is not essential. The method for making a good omelet is simple: lightly whisk the eggs, melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium low heat, add the eggs and cook for 30 seconds or so, with a spatula push one edge of the eggs toward the center of the pan, allow the uncooked eggs to fill the space and repeat the process until the eggs are cooked

and not runny. Now add the filling you wish and with the spatula lift one edge and fold it over to close it like a book. It's that simple.

SHRIMP AND CHEESE

4 eggs

3 tablespoons cream

4-6 peeled and cooked shrimp (if large cut in half)

2-ounces butter

1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1/4 cup cooked asparagus tips

3 tablespoons chopped roasted poblano pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium low heat. Gently whisk the eggs with the cream and add to the pan, cook for 2 minutes and then use the technique described above and continue until the eggs are almost firm. Add the other ingredients, carefully fold the omelet over and cook 2-3 minutes, turn it over to insure the cheese is melted and cook for 2 more minutes. Plate and garnish with cilantro sprigs and a thin slice of orange.

OPEN-FACE SAUSAGE AND BELL PEPPER OMELET

6 eggs

3 tablespoons cream

2-ounces butter

1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced smoked pork sausage

1/2 cup sliced red onion

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch red pepper flaked

Sauté the sausage in a little oil until brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and add the onion, cooking for about 10 minutes then adding the bell peppers. Season as you go. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, remove from heat, re-add the sausage and mix well. Whisk the eggs with the cream, season with black pepper if you like. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, add the eggs and cook over low-to-medium-low heat until the eggs are almost completely set. Add the sausage and vegetable mixture evenly on top of the eggs and place under the broiler until the eggs are completely set. Optionally dust the top with Parmesan or a good melting cheese.

TURKEY AND MUSHROOM OMELET

4 eggs

1/2-cup shredded cooked turkey

3 tablespoons chopped mushrooms

1/4-cup diced onion

3 tablespoons butter

Black pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Cilantro for garnish

Optional: dollop sour cream or crème fraiche

Sauté the mushrooms and onion in a little olive oil until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and the onions are soft, add the turkey, toss and set aside. Remember to season as you go. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, whisk the eggs and add them evenly. Follow the basic directions above for preparing the omelet and when almost done add the turkey and onion mushroom mixture. Carefully fold the omelet and cook over low heat until the stuffing is thoroughly warmed. Garnish with the cilantro and cream if you choose to use it and serve immediately.

Julian Glenn Brunt, who has been a Mississippi Gulf Coast resident for more than 20 years, has a deep and abiding interest in art, culture and the culinary heritage of the South. His column runs weekly in Taste. You can contact him at living@sunherald.com.

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